PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Three dogs were rescued Tuesday night from a condominium fire that badly damaged several units and left four families without a place to live.
Julie Anderson said she wasn't home when the fire broke out in the units above hers, but her dogs were inside the condo off Tifton Way North, near Cove Road, in Sawgrass Country Club.
Firefighters found two of the dogs as they were searching the building, and Anderson and her family arrived just in time to send them back inside for the last one, who was hiding under a bed.
Anderson said the fluffy, energetic ball of fur, named Natasha, is OK.
“She smelled like smoke, and she was coughing. My niece is a med tech, so we brought her here to the dog grooming shop, and we checked her out, and she seems to be doing fine today,” Anderson said.
No one was injured in the fire, which started in the closet of one of the upstairs units, according to a man who called 911 about 7:15 p.m. to report the blaze.
“It was an electrical shortage in my closet,” the man told the dispatcher. “I tried to get some power going for my wife’s computer and stuff, but the next thing I knew, the fire broke out in the closet. There was some short circuit going on, you could hear the static in my radio, and then next thing I saw, this blaze in my closet, where all my clothes are and boxes were on fire. It had to be something like that.”
When firefighters arrived about 9 minutes after the call, they found the building evacuated with heavy smoke and flames showing from the roof. The fire was spreading rapidly through the attic space, but firefighters were able to limit damage to other units in the building.
Anderson's was one of the four units severely damaged by smoke and flames. She said it will likely be several months before she or any of the other families can move back in.
She said the entire scene was chaotic and emotional, but she is thankful no one was injured and that the firefighters responded so quickly.
“It was heartbreaking to see all that fire, very emotional. I don’t think it hit me until this morning and there was lots of crying,” she said.
Anderson said she believes her unit received the least amount of damage.
“There are some that are burnt to a crisp,” she said. “It’s really, it’s very earth shattering.”
The Red Cross was called to assist the four displaced families.
Anderson said her husband has been trying to get things out of the condo. A blue tarp has been put over the roof to try to keep rain from doing more damage.
Anderson's family will be looking for a place to stay in the meantime. She said they plan to start a GoFundMe page for everyone affected. Once we get that link we'll add it here.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.